Italian bishop protected paedophile priest: Report

ROME (AFP) - An Italian bishop aided and abetted a paedophile priest, telling him to avoid the police and shrugging off warnings the prelate was meeting teenage boys on Grindr, Italian media reported on Sunday (Dec 20).

Priest Antonello Tropea, 44, was arrested after a police investigation allegedly uncovered he was using the US-based gay dating app to pick up the teenagers, with whom he had sexual relations in his car or his rectory in Calabria.

Bishop Francesco Milito was accused by a prosecutor of failing to investigate widely-spread reports of the priest's activities and encouraging him to "continue as before", according to the reports.

Police suspicions were raised after officers found Tropea in a car in a secluded spot with a teenager, and the priest not only said he was a physical education teacher but had suspicious objects in his rucksack.

An investigation was launched and wiretaps revealed not only Milito's anger over an anonymous letter about Tropea, believed to have been written by a nun, but also how the bishop warned his charge to "avoid speaking to the police".

According to La Repubblica newspaper, the two-month probe allegedly found that Tropea picked up boys on Grindr under the name Nicola, the same name as the patron saint of his parish in Messignadi in southern Italy, San Nicola di Mira.